Yaroslavl: Exploring Russia's Historical Gem in the Golden Ring
If you're looking to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of old provincial Russia, look no further than Yaroslavl. The city has earned its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its stunning architecture and peaceful atmosphere. The city centre is free from the usual hustle and bustle, making it the perfect spot to unwind and take in the picturesque surroundings. Yaroslavl is also the proud capital of the Golden Ring, a popular tourist route in Russia, so it's an ideal starting point for your adventure.
Yaroslavl is conveniently accessible from Moscow, with a train journey from Moscow's Yaroslavsky Railway Station taking approximately three hours. While train tickets are reasonably priced (a Lastochka train journey will cost you around 2,000 RUB), it's advisable to book them in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.
The Golden Ring is a popular tourist route in Central Russia. It passes through eight cities: Sergiyev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov Veliky, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Suzdal, and Vladimir. Some also include Moscow, Gus-Khrustalny, and Uglich in this list. Visitors to the cities of the Golden Ring can enjoy traditional Russian architecture, as well as visit temples, monasteries, and museums.
The historical city centre: Yaroslavl's historic centre, particularly the Volga River embankment, is a perfect place to explore while traveling. You can take a leisurely stroll, listen to some street music, and enjoy the breathtaking view of one of Russia's most important rivers. Additionally, the 1,000th Anniversary Park is located on the embankment, where you relax while sitting on a bench overlooking the river.
Immerse yourself in the medieval history of Russia at this museum complex in Yaroslavl. The exhibits showcase the daily life of people during this era and provide a glimpse into the past. The monastery walls make for an impressive fortress, and to fully appreciate the architecture, climb one of the towers. Entrance to the tower is 150 RUB per adult, but the panoramic views of the city centre are worth it. It's an ideal spot to take photos of the city.
Open daily 8 am–7:30 pm
Church of Elijah the Prophet
This church is home to preserved artistic decorations that represent the pinnacle of ancient Russian art. The main attraction is the original paintings from the 17th century, which are astonishingly well-preserved, retaining the freshness and brightness of their colours. The church is free to visit.
Open daily 9 am–7 pm
Founded in 1750, the Volkov Theatre is one of Russia's oldest theatres. It continues to stage captivating performances to this day, offering a wide variety of shows to choose from. Tickets are much more affordable than in Moscow, while performances maintain the same quality of stage and scenery. Whether you're a theatre enthusiast or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, the Volkov Theatre is definitely worth a visit during your journey.
You can view the performance schedule on the official website.
The Tereshkova Centre
This unique site is named in honour of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to travel into space. One of the key features of the centre is its interactivity. Visitors can explore the fascinating world of cosmonautics through a range of exhibits from the cosmonaut training centre. Additionally, the planetarium offers a chance to learn more about space and Russia's impressive space achievements.
For an even more immersive experience, there is a 5D attraction that allows visitors to feel like real-life astronauts, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in space exploration.
Whether you're a space enthusiast or simply looking for an educational and entertaining day out, this centre has something to offer.
Open daily 9 am–6 pm
Tickets 100 RUB
Interactive Gallery ticket 50 RUB
Pottery and Majolica Workshops
Majolica is a traditional craft in Yaroslavl: not only does it boast a wide range of ceramic souvenirs, but authentic colourful ceramic tiles also decorate the city’s churches. In Yaroslavl, multiple studios offer majolica and pottery workshops that allow visitors try their hand at the ancient craft.
We recommend the ceramics studio at Yaroslavl Ceramics Manufacture. To sign up, call +79109728200. The cost is about 1,300 RUB for a ceramic tile painting workshop, and about 2,200 for a majolica figurine workshop. If you’re in the city for a short visit, you have the option to get your piece of art delivered via mail after it is kiln dried.
Dining and Accommodation
Yaroslavl's culinary scene offers a mix of traditional Russian cuisine and international dishes. Local specialties include pelmeni, borscht, blini, and local herbal tea. Accommodation options range from cosy boutique hotels to larger, modern establishments, with prices generally more affordable than in Moscow.
We highly recommend visiting the Bazar canteen during your travels. This establishment boasts a buffet system, offering a diverse selection of cuisine—including authentic Russian dishes. With an extensive menu and affordable prices, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Don't miss out on this dining experience.
If you're seeking a one-of-a-kind dining experience during your travels, we highly recommend visiting Penaty. Housed in a former Yaroslavl merchant's residence, this exquisite establishment offers modern cuisine and an impressive wine collection. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a cosy English club, with an intimate ambiance that is sure to make your meal unforgettable.
A trip to Yaroslavl is an immersive journey into Russia's past. Its well-preserved architecture, serene riverbanks, and rich cultural experiences offer a unique perspective on the nation's history. Yaroslavl's status as a historical gem within the Golden Ring makes it the perfect destination for travellers seeking authentic Russian heritage.
- Students can get a discount on the price of museum tickets by presenting their student card, so don’t forget to bring it with you.
- Temperatures in Yaroslavl tend to be lower than in Moscow, so make sure to pack up some warmer clothes.
- On the way to Yaroslavl there are other notable cities of the Golden Ring: Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl Zalessky, and Rostov Veliky. If you have time, be sure to stop there as well.
Text by Maxim Lukianenko and Alexander Tkachenko, bachelor’s students of Foreign Languages and Intercultural Communication, interns at the HSE University English website team